International Tobacco Control: An Update
David Satcher, MD, PhD
Two years ago, I wrote about the 52nd World Health Assembly's (WHA) resolution that began work on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) (JAMA. 1999;281:942-943). Since then, the member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) have met twice in working groups and twice as an intergovernmental negotiating body, in a process that should lead to the first international treaty developed under WHO. The hopeful atmosphere as the WHA authorized the process has perhaps been tempered a bit by the serious realities of the hard work needed to reach a successful conclusion. But the member states, including the United States, remain committed to meaningful international cooperation. Despite progress in raising the visibility of the tobacco use problem, smoking remains a major health concern. In March, I released my report on Women and Smoking ( http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/sgr/ sgr_forwomen/sgr_women_chapters.htm), showing that smoking rates among US women were no longer declining and were rising steeply among teenaged girls. Strong action is needed here and around the world. One victory has already been achieved because of the negotiations. The chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Celso Amorim of Brazil, was elected last October despite being a smoker, with a telltale brown patch on his white mustache. At the opening of the second negotiating session, he proudly announced that he had stopped smoking, proving that exposure to information about tobacco use can have an effect on addictive behavior.